A publishing friend in Chicago once described his “seven-year rule” for periodicals: If you could somehow manage to pinch pennies and stay alive for seven years, your competition would fall away and you would then have enough strength in your niche to be assured of sustainability. I hope that’s true, because thanks in great part to Crosscutters like you, Crosscut just celebrated its sixth anniversary — seventh, if you count the planning time to get us started in 2007.
This comforting, seven-year axiom was formulated before the great meltdown in American news media. Now, even a Gibraltar like the New York Times says its financial rebuilding won’t be completed anytime soon. “Safe arrival on the shore of stable profitability in the digital age won’t be achieved in 2013; it is a long journey, with headwinds all the way,” observed the paper’s public editor a few weeks ago.
And while the Crosscut formula of non-profit, member-supported, public-interest journalism looks like one of the best ideas for fighting these headwinds, “safe arrival” is anything but assured. One quality website, the Chicago News Coop, went dark when a key foundation ended its support. Another admired site, The Bay Citizen in San Francisco, has been absorbed into an investigative entity, dropping its excellent daily coverage of issues.
Still, scores of these new, non-profit news sites are starting up. Crosscut, under new leader Greg Shaw, now keeps company with the very best sites (in Austin, Minneapolis and San Diego) in terms of story-count, readership, community impact and quality. It’s your annual support as a contributing member that makes all the difference, so I hope you will join me in renewing your membership. It's especially timely, because in this final week of the campaign generous Crosscut supporters have volunteered to match the donation of any members who join at the $100 level (or higher!) by April 12.
As Crosscut’s founder, I am particularly proud of all the advances the site has made since Greg succeeded me last fall:
- The daily story count has doubled, even tripled on many days;
- Crosscut now covers Olympia and state issues in an extensive, play-it-straight way;
- Dozens of new writers (particularly women and younger voices) have joined our ranks;
- New emphases such as food justice, urban sustainability, books, the changing Eastside and sports now have regular presence;
- Partnerships are blooming, including such new programs as Civic Cocktail forums (a nice benefit of membership, by the way);
- We have a new editor in chief, Mary Bruno, my esteemed colleague in past years at Seattle Weekly, and a new board chair, Brad Bagshaw, long active in Seattle legal and civic affairs;
- We now have a resident Daily Troll (our afternoon news update);
- And we’ve published our first e-book and iPhone/iPad app.
So join up again, and keep all this positive creative energy surging.
News media used to exist by virtue of a kind of monopoly — one big general interest paper in a city, a dominant outlet in niches like business or youth culture or talk radio. Now, sites such as Crosscut exist because they have connected deeply with a community and its need for reliable, diverse reporting and points of view. That connection is most validated by readers who care enough about the outlet and their community to support these ventures with annual (tax-deductible) donations, preserving the reporting for all to read.
Crosscut exists and grows because you care enough to “vote” for us each year. All in favor? Donate here.
And thanks — make that six years worth of gratitude — to all of you who help us survive and thrive. We should all be proud for having created such a civic treasure. Let’s keep it going.
PS: This is the last week of our spring membership drive. Renew now at the $100 level or higher and double your impact with the Crosscut match!